Time is of the essence. Part One

Recently I was talking to a business contact. He was quite annoyed because he had made a referral between two of his contacts. One, let’s call her Freda, he had known for a long time, and needed a supplier and the other, let’s call him Gilbert, he had known for a year or two and could have been that supplier. Why was my contact annoyed? Because earlier in the day Freda had told him that Gilbert had not been in touch, and it had now been over a month since the referral had been made.

When someone makes a referral, their reputation is on the line, and that needs to be protected. So, if someone makes a referral, we have an obligation to contact the person who may need your services, even if we think that you may not be able to do the work. And whatever the outcome I think we then need to contact the person who has made the referral and update them (I’m assuming that they have been thanked previously) and we need to do that in a timely fashion and for me that is within a day, or at the latest a couple of days, of getting the referral.

Now my contact has been embarrassed because he has recommended Gilbert, who has not bothered to get in touch with Freda. His relationship with Freda should be repairable, but maybe not. What has also happened is Gilbert’s reputation has been demolished because my contact will never refer any work to him, Freda will not refer any work to him, and both will be honour-bound to tell of their experience if Gilbert’s name gets mentioned.

So, when you get that referral remember they could have recommended someone else. Even if you don’t care about someone else’s reputation—which, in my opinion, is strange and unprofessional—remember that your reputation is on the line too. Make that call, send that email, because time is of the essence!

Have fun, stay safe

Is it OK to lick people?

There seems to be a change in the atmosphere. The news is more positive, jabs are being given and people are starting to talk about what will stay virtual once we are able to meet face-to-face again. Certainly, people have said that some things which they always did face-to-face will now stay virtual and some things will go back to face-to-face as soon as it is possible.

This has got me thinking about how my opinion has changed since the first lockdown. I had thought that I need to meet someone to know if I liked them. That is no longer true. Since 23rd March 2020 I have met some great new, strong contacts and I have never met them. We have never shaken hands or chatted over a sticky bun. I have also met some people who I wouldn’t want to spend any more time with. (See: https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=154)

This year we launched our afternoon networking events. They are, and will always be, virtual. They are different from our Groups because: there is no membership involved (although if you are a member they are free to attend), they are afternoon meetings, not over breakfast and people can come and go as they wish within the two hours of the event. Still great people to meet, and since people are coming from all over I may never meet these people face-to-face, but now I know that my ‘Spidey senses’ are able to separate the two types of people.

So, soon we may be able to safely meet. We can, as appropriate, shake hands, hug, kiss. People who know me know I get quite excited, so, my question is—is it ever OK to lick people rather than ice cream?

Need some help with your networking?

Go to www.ebn.uk.com and download my Top 20 Networking tips.

Have fun, stay safe.

Glenys

Quality not quantity

Quite often people contact me to enquire about attending one of our Groups, or, more recently, one our new afternoon networking events. (Here’s more info: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/afternoon-networking-tickets-136617202731?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch )

We talk about various aspects of our networking, membership (or not), virtual or face to face (All virtual for now, and always will be for the afternoon meetings). However, at some point some ask the following question, ”…and how many people attend?”

To be honest this is where I lose some interest in the conversation. Why? because I have always worked on the ‘quality not quantity’ principle when it comes to networking. Some people seem to think that the more people there are, the better any event is. Not true in my experience. I was once invited to an event in London and I was told afterwards that there had been over 600 people at the networking event. It was horrendous: so noisy you couldn’t hear yourself think, and people were so packed in that, being short, the taller people took away my air and light.  After about 15 minutes I gave up, I left the room and wandered around the hotel till I found a small bar, and guess what? There I met other people who had ducked out of the main event.

I had a great time. I met some people I knew, they introduced me to some people I didn’t know, and I reciprocated. In the end there were about 5 small groups of people getting to know each other, either with initial meetings or building deeper relationships with people we already knew. Fantastic networking. We exchanged cards and kept in touch and from that small number of people I have grown my contact base and the relationships have been mutually beneficial. That’s what networking about: quality not quantity.

If you would like some more ideas to make your networking work, go to: www.ebn.uk.com and download my top 20 tips.

Have fun.

Just a little frog list

If you read my blogs, in any of the options, you’ll know that I am doing loads of new stuff at the moment and the only thing they have is common is that they are all taking me outside my comfort zone (see https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=211). In fact, it’s gotten to the point where I have a “Frogs to eat” list! (Thank you Mark Twain.)

Lots of people have helped me, both real people and YouTube experts. All have different specialisms, but all seem to have three things in common. They

  • all know their stuff and are clear about what they don’t know,
  • are happy to share their knowledge,
  • all use the word ‘just’ when telling me stuff, as in “You just click on that”.

Now this may be just me being a bit paranoid, but it seems that when I “Just click on that” the same thing that happened when they “Just clicked on that” doesn’t happen. It might be that the recording is old, and the information is out of date, or it may just be the technology fairies messing with me. Either way it doesn’t end well.

During a recent sleepless night, when the frog list wouldn’t let me settle into my snuggly pillow, I suddenly realised that it wasn’t the frog list that was worrying me, it was the word ‘just’. Because when an expert says “Just do this” they are basing this on years, if not decades, of knowledge, of doing that thing. So ‘just’ to me means possibly hours of head scratching, pencil chewing and hair pulling…and of course dreaming of frog lists.

So, I have learnt three things:

  • when a real someone says “just…” I suppress the urge to weep, and I ask them for clarification,
  • when a virtual someone says “just…” I suppress the urge to weep and click to another person,
  • when I hear myself saying “Just…” I ask if they understand what needs doing.

My question to you, therefore, is—is this just me?

If you want some help with your networking, go to www.ebn.uk.com and download my top 20 networking tips.

Have fun!

Having a virtual bubble

Well, it’s all done and dusted and the remains of the turkey, which as always, was of ostrich proportions, is sliced, diced and frozen. Now into the New Year, when my mantra for 2021 will be “Never talk about 2020” I’m going to get my last CoVid-19 comment in.

Every four months I visit all my Groups, have 1-2-1s with Group Directors and, at Christmas, take this as an opportunity to wear one of my elf outfits (FYI I have three). This year the Group meetings were quite emotional, as people said “thank you” to other members, the GDs and, a few times, me. During one meeting a member summed it up by saying that their Group had become their ‘virtual bubble’, providing a safe place with people who would support them, whether with their business or their wobble days when emotionally they were not coping so well.

This member then said something that made my heart glad, and my eyes moist, they said “Glenys you should be very proud of what you have created”, and, you know, when I took time to think about it, I am proud. I’m proud that people have felt able to share their concerns, maintain and grow their businesses, supported each other and are still standing at the end of this year. When I decided that all our meetings would be held under the Chatham House Rule (what is said in the meeting cannot be attributed outside of the meeting) I did it so that people can have a place of safety where they could share their concerns without fear that it was going to appear on the 9 o’clock news.

This has worked and continues to work. Within each Group people have shared and been supported. People have visited and joined because they have seen the worth, experienced the ethos and felt supported. And, since business can be a lonely place, I am proud of what I, my GDs and my members have achieved

When we are in business we worry about all sorts of things—staff, customers, cashflow seems to cover it for me. We celebrate when the business grows, when we get that contract, when our team grows, when we need larger premises, and we agonize when the business shrinks, or we don’t get that contract, when we have to make difficult decisions about our team members, and we realise that maybe we didn’t need such a large office.

Rarely do we take time to feel proud, of what we’ve achieved; the business we’ve developed and nurtured. However we started our business, whether from scratch or buying something that we have then moulded and grown—I’ve done both—it has taken persistence, passion, strength and commitment. So today, as you read this and we head into a brighter 2021, let’s all take a moment to feel proud of what we have achieved.

My New Year gift is some support for your networking in 2021. Go to www.ebn.uk.com and download my Top 20 tips.

Have fun, stay safe

Glenys

I don’t know anyone called anybody or somebody

Last week I met some new members to help them to get the most from their networking and, in particular, from their membership of ebn. One of the things I talk about is helping others to get you business from their contacts. To enable people to do this they need to understand what you do and who would be your best customer. The first part of this I cover in the blog which I mention below, so here I’ll deal with the second part: understanding what your best customer looks like.

We are all busy people, keeping our business working and growing, looking after staff and customers, both existing and potential, planning and implementing marketing, sorting out premises, equipment, insurance… you know what it’s like. Here I’m dealing with marketing. Part of any marketing plan is knowing what your ideal customer looks like, so at ebn we are looking for decision makers. Usually this is a business owner but sometimes it can be an employee with a sphere of influence, think Director in a very large company.

Now, because I am busy working out what my ideal customer looks like I don’t have time to work out what other people’s ideal customer looks like. That is not me being selfish, it’s me being honest. We have to help people to sift through all their contacts, mentally not physically, and find those who, we have said, are ideal customers. How does this work? First and most important: Never ask for anybody or somebody.

Instead, be as specific as you can. So let’s say you are a caterer looking for people who want catering. You do different types of catering so focus on one type of catering at a time, whilst making brief mention of the other types of catering, my blog: https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=148 explains this in more detail. So let’s say that today the caterer is focussing on the wedding market. They don’t say “Anyone who might need catering”. They say “Do you know anyone who is starting to plan their wedding”. Perhaps narrow that down further by saying “In the Essex area” and because they are fully booked for this year, they may further narrow it down to “and are planning to get married next year”. The caterer might want to have contact with venues who have preferred supplier lists. So they don’t say “Any venues that have preferred supplier lists”. They do the research and find out if a venue has a preferred supplier list, and then say “Do you know the owner of…and name a venue”. This narrows down who they are looking for and enables more people to mentally sift through their contacts and potentially make the introduction.

Help people to help you grow your business.

If you would like more tips on networking go to www.ebn.uk.comanddownload my top 20 tips.

Have fun

Working outside my comfort zone.

In the last few weeks, I have spent quite a lot of time outside my comfort zone. Why? Because my working life used to be, in the main, quite straightforward. I networked, I worked on strategy, I implemented new processes and systems. Occasionally, I would be outside my comfort zone because I was doing something new, but I like spending a bit of time outside my comfort zone, as long as there is foundation of ‘business as usual’.

But all that changed in March. I, along with most of the population had to:

  • come to terms with meeting people using Zoom and other similar platforms,
  • practice looking at the camera rather than looking at people so you end up looking slightly unfocussed,
  • learn how to deal with the gap between saying I wasleaving a meeting and then actually leaving a meeting having found the right button to click on.

So when that became easier I became a bit more adventurous. I took part in my first podcast[GC1] , I did my first virtual presentation and I chaired my own less formal meetings, rather than other people doing all the techy bits. I started to study some new social media platforms and realised how little of the language used I understood.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like that adrenalin surge you get when you are nervous. But the last few weeks it has felt like I couldn’t see my comfort zone even if I had binoculars! So, two weeks ago I attended my first virtual international conference and used my very rusty German. Last week I chaired my first formal business meeting and was in charge of the system. Scary! And to finish the week I recorded my ‘Business chat’ with a colleague which I then uploaded to my new YouTube channel…did I mention that I also set up a YouTube channel?

I’m sure that these new adventures will become normal so  I’m planning more adventures. I’m organising a virtual Christmas networking event for members and, if successful, I will be arranging some regular afternoon networking events, starting in the new year. I’m also looking at opening Groups outside of our current area. All are making me nervous…but that’s becoming business as usual!

Is networking “outside your comfort zone? Get my top 20 networking tips to download:www.ebn.uk.com


 [GC1]

Learning from other people

Last week was a busy one for my brain. I attended 2 training sessions and I had two meetings to discuss new products and services, which will involve using new systems. The bit of my brain that was left started to think about this aspect of networking: knowing people who know stuff.

When I became self-employed, nearly 25 years ago, I quickly realised that I had left behind the support system that comes with working in the corporate world: a secretary who sorted all my admin needs, an IT section so I didn’t have to bother with things that plug in and require passwords, a stationery cupboard that the fairies filled, and a whole team who made sure that I could concentrate on what I was good at—building relationships with customers and potential customers (so some things haven’t changed).

All the above included having projects, usually decided by my boss, that meant I would be given a brief that included a how-to sheet. (Is it just me who wants to call this a brief brief?)  That was it. Now I think of new products and services (woohoo!) and I must find people who know the stuff I will need to know to implement the whole thing. I then need to manage the implementation. This includes a level of understanding. However, since I know these people who know stuff, it doesn’t have to be a deep understanding since I can always ask my supplier for help.

I have suppliers who I have known for forever and I have suppliers I’ve known for months. All of them have the same qualities. They:

  • know their stuff,
  • can solve my problems (not all of them of course just the ones that relate to their specialism!),
  • can explain stuff I need to know and understand in language that I can understand and
  • are people I trust.

So last week I learnt:

  • about making websites effective and uploading videos to YouTube (thanks Mike Hennan),
  • some intricacies of social media marketing (thanks Lesley Morrissey),
  • additional information about how to get the best from Zoom (thank you David Bell).

Self-employment can be a lonely place but we are not alone. We are surrounded by people whose knowledge is different from ours and who are willing and able to help us build our businesses.

What did you learn in the last week? If you want get some information about networking, go to: www.ebn.uk.com and download my 20 top tips.

Happy networking.

My problem with business cards?

Do you remember back in the mists of time, pre-March 23rd to be precise? In those wonderful days we met people face to face, we could see all of each other’s faces, the nightmare of coordinating masks and outfits weren’t on the radar and women wore  lipstick when they went out of the house (Wait: OK the last two might just be me, I tried wearing lipstick under my mask and ended up looking like the Joker) Anyway, back to the story, in those halcyon days you met someone, chatted, thought there might be some points of contact and you exchanged cards. (Yes there were some hip-and-happening youngsters—or as I call them—geeks, who had apps on their phones but I’m still old school…and I paid a lot of money for all the business cards I have.)

On 23rd March, the world of business changed in many way.  (Read https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=145 to see how it affected me personally) but here I want to focus on business cards.

Before March 23rd, and given GDPR, I would get their card connect on Linkedin, send them an email, and ask if I could add them to my list from which they could, of course unsubscribe. (Interestingly, I never had anyone say that I couldn’t). We would then work at building a relationship, perhaps by arranging a 1-2-1. But that whole process started with a business card exchange.

The other thing with business cards was I ALWAYS had them with me when I went out of the house. Why? Because if you are not talking to yourself you are networking. Want proof that this approach works? When I had a catering company, I was once at the checkout of my local supermarket (I’d like to say Waitrose, but it was Tesco) and got talking to the next woman in the queue. She said she was very angry because her caterer had just rung her and cancelled her booking, something about a surprise holiday! I pulled out my business card, we met, and I got a very profitable job. I always took my business cards with me.

After 23rd March I can still connect with people on Linkedin but I don’t have the business card process nailed down, and since I rarely go out, I don’t even know where my business cards are.

As I try to evolve my working practices, I spent some time giving this some thought, and what did I find? The solutions to these business cards issues is simple: 1 I will be asking permission to add my new Linkedin connections to my list and I am digging out my business cards and putting them next to my vast array of various coloured masks.

How can you help? Make sure your contact details are correct and complete on your Linkedin profile. Please.

What are some of the small changes you are making?

Want some networking tips? Go to:  https://www.ebn.uk.com/ and download my top 20 networking tips. You’re welcome.

Have fun

Glenys

Every day is an interview day

Recently I was at a meeting, virtual of course, and I commented on how great one attendee looked. Actually, I said, “You look smart, are you going for a job interview?” He said, “Every day is an interview day” and everyone smiled. Later I was thinking about his comment.

I know that when I go to any meeting I am representing my company and, more importantly, people I meet must feel able to refer me to their contacts. So I dress as if I am going to be introduced to someone who invites me to address their board in London. I dress smartly, always, and this applies whether I am meeting people face to face or virtually, because… did I mention I am representing my company?

It is tempting to relax when attending a meeting. We’re at home, possibly not long from our beds, and we’ve not had any of that bothersome travel. Coffee from our kitchen, with a bit of  tidying done while we wait for the kettle to boil. But, did I mention that I am representing my company?

So I approach a virtual meeting the same way I do a face to face meeting, because I am being interviewed—interviewed by people who will be judging whether their reputation is going to be harmed by introducing me to their contacts. Therefore I dress  smartly, I comb my hair, I put on my makeup, I prepare myself and behave appropriately during the meeting because every day  is an interview day.

What do you think?

As always if you want 20 free networking hints and tips, go to ebn.uk.com and download away.

Have fun,

Glenys